Thursday, May 31, 2007

ACLU sues Boeing arm over CIA renditions

ACLU sues Boeing arm over CIA renditions
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007
Published: May 30 2007 21:04 | Last updated: May 30 2007 21:04

The American Civil Liberties Union sued a Boeing subsidiary on Wednesday for allegedly helping the Central Intelligence Agency transport prisoners under its extraordinary renditions programme.

The ACLU lawsuit alleges that the subsidiary, California-based Jeppesen Data plan, provided the CIA with services for flights that were used to send three prisoners to secret detention facilities where they claim they were tortured.

According to the ACLU complaint, Binyam Moh amed, an Ethiopian, Ahmed Agiza, an Egyptian, and Abou Elkassim Britel, an Italian citizen, were all subject to the CIA renditions programme, in which prisoners are captured in one country and sent to CIA overseas secret detention sites, or to other countries’ intelligence services, for interrogation.

“We are filing this lawsuit on behalf of three individuals who have been repeatedly tortured, terrified, humiliated and deprived of their basic human rights,” said Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU. “American companies should not be profiting from a CIA rendition programme that is unlawful and contrary to core American values.”

President George W. Bush conceded the existence of the secret detention sites last year.

The ACLU says Mr Agiza is imprisoned in Egypt, while Mr Britel is being held in Morocco. An Italian judge has dismissed all charges of suspected terrorism against Mr Britel. Dozens of members of the Italian parliament have petitioned Morocco over his release.

As part of its case, the ACLU cites comments by a senior Jeppesen Dataplan executive in a New Yorker magazine article, in which he says the company “do all of the extraordinary rendition flights – you know, the torture flights”.

The CIA and Boeing both declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In a related case, the ACLU also petitioned the Supreme Court on Wednesday over the case of Khaled al-Masri, a Lebanese-born German who was captured in Macedonia in December 2003 and allegedly held until May 2004 by the CIA in a secret prison in Afghanistan.

A federal court dismissed a previous lawsuit that accused George Tenet, the former CIA director, of violating human rights laws by authorising CIA operatives to capture Mr Masri. The court agreed to dismiss the case on the grounds that it could compromise state secrets.

A former intelligence official told the FT that Mr Tenet’s office had agreed to apprehend Mr Masri despite warnings from senior intelligence operatives that he had no connection with the “war on terror” and that his name “al-Masri”, which translates as “the Egyptian,” was a common name in the Middle East.

The ACLU alleges that Jeppesen provided logistics services, such as flight planning, catering and hotel accommodation for crew, for more than 70 rendition flights involving two aircraft over a four-year period. The lawsuit also accuses Jeppesen of providing services for the flight used to transport Mr Masri.


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